It is not about getting the job done


DAID with my risk averse mare who was very afraid of this pedestal. I have a very good relationship with this lovely mare of mine, but she would not go anywhere near it if asked really gently with a rope. Luring did not work, targeting also failed.

The power of choice worked its miracle, together with observational learning and an open minded horse well used to R+

If she had said “no thanks, not now”, to stepping on the pedestal, that would have been a fine answer that I would have accepted. To be given a choice between a rock and a hard place is no choice at all. To not accept “no” for an answer does not create a good trust account.

To have true freedom, no consequences to leaving, no consequences to saying “no thanks” is to have true choice and this builds trust and self confidence.

Self confidence and good relationships build good mental health. Good mental health enhances physical health.

When you focus too hard on the end result , this often becomes a problem. both for you and for the horse. Determination to “get the job done” is at first an acceptable idealistic goal to have, but if the horse says “no thanks, not now” this could become “get the job done as fast as possible and do whatever it takes, even if its at the horses own expense to comply”. It is often necessary to break down the stages towards the end goal behaviour into very, very small steps, shaping the horses behaviour gradually to creep towards the one we want to see, but these shaping steps must be taken at the horses pace, and not ours.

It is better to escalate time rather than pressure if you want to retain or gain a good relationship with your horse. Pressure/Release is another way to describe Negative Reinforcement. We remove the reinforcing pull on the line when the horse turns his head. The “release” that comes after the pulling stops is not a reward. If someone stops pushing or pulling you around this is not a true reward. A true reward would be something which is given to you as a direct result of your efforts.

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